A radical group called Decolonize This Place, which caused a reported $100,000 in damages to the New York subways, took out after former Whitney Museum Board Member Warren Kanders.

Mr. Kanders’ company Safariland manufactured law enforcement gear, including tear gas, bullet proof vests, and bomb-defusing robots. The Board did not support Kanders, who stepped down under pressure.    

It was a big victory for Decolonize This Place, and even the New York Times recognizes the implications for the museum world:

The controversy thrust the museum into the political arguments roiling the country, and came at a time of increasing scrutiny of where cultural institutions get their money. Mr. Kanders’s departure could embolden other protest movements that have demanded, with some success, that museums part ways with major donors or trustees.

Ironically, the progressiveness of the Whitney and Mr. Kanders himself did little to save them:

The growing influence of these movements, and their potential to drive away major sources of museums’ revenue such as Mr. Kanders, was evident in the reaction of Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney’s director.

‘Here’s a man who has given a tremendous amount of his time and money to young, often edgy and radical artists — somebody who is very progressive — that’s one of the ironies of all this,” Mr. Weinberg said.

‘The Whitney Museum is one of the most progressive, the most diverse, the most engaged, open programs of any major institution in the country,’ Mr. Weinberg added. ‘Every museum director is looking at us right now and saying, ‘Gee, if the Whitney is being targeted, what’s going to happen to us?’

Not only did Kanders step down from the Whitney Board, he sold off parts of his company offensive to Decolonize. Kanders . . .

. . . announced today that he will divest from the divisions of his company that produce “crowd-control solutions.”

. . .

The latest announcement, first reported by the New York Times, comes amid reignited scrutiny of Kanders and Safariland for allegedly supplying tear gas that was deployed in recent weeks against Black Lives Matters protesters.

Safariland will now sell two of its subsidiary divisions, Defense Technology and Monadnock, which sell chemical agents, batons, restraints, and other items sold to law enforcement and military agencies. The divisions currently represent 6 percent of the company’s $500 million yearly revenue, according to the Times.

And, so, is Decolonize mollified? Not a bit.

In a “Message to Warren Kanders” on its website, Decolonize says:

Now you have seen which way the wind is blowing, so you quit the tear gas business.

But we are not done with you. We call on you to show the world that you acknowledge the wrongs by returning the profits to those that you harmed by your products. Individuals, groups, and movements that you knew would be harmed by the armed violence of states. Make reparations by handing over the money to causes devoted to care, healing and justice. We call you to show that this is not just a calculated business decision to sell when the going gets rough.

I bet Decolonize wouldn’t mid accepting some of that cash. Corporations have fallen all over themselves donating millions to Black Lives Matter, and why shouldn’t Decolonize get a cut?

We had a “mostly peaceful” demonstration in my Adams Morgan neighborhood the other night. From my window, I watched BLM members firing off firecrackers. I am heading out to buy defensive equipment.

Decolonize wants to disarm people like me who might purchase legal items in an effort to protect ourselves.

And if an organization like Decolonize can force a powerful man off a prestigious board and then get him to sell part of his company, we should not underestimate their power to prevent us from protecting ourselves.

I urge you to peruse their website, and remember, while doing so, that Decolonize is more powerful than the Whitney Museum of American Art Board.